Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chhod aaye hum wo galiyaan (Maachis)

In a listener's mind, this song's iconic whistling is so important a part of the complete package, that last I started writing about this song, the post was hijacked by the whistling part alone and I ended up writing this post instead. While whistling is often associated with a carefree disposition and an untroubled mind, the feelings behind this song are anything but carefree or untroubled.

Maachis (1996) is a movie about the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. As violence broke out, the atrocities against Sikhs resulted in many Sikh youths joining militancy.

The song itself shows a transition - from four (apparently) happy young men singing (and whistling) about leaving behind their loved ones' streets (in the mukhda) - to a slightly melancholic mood (in the first antara) - and suddenly shifting gears to a hard-hitting second antara talking about 'Ek chhota sa lamha hai, jo khatm nahin hota' - those moments of atrocities that one tries hard to forget, but is unable to.

Lyrics, and translation
Chhod aaye hum wo galiyaan... - 2

[[We've left behind those streets...]]

Jahaan tere pairon ke kanwal gira karte the
Hanse to do gaalon mein bhanwar pada karte the
Teri kamar ke bal pe, nadi muda karti thi
Hansi teri sun-sun ke, fasal paka karti thi

[[Where the lotuses of your feet used to fall /
When you used to laugh, the dimples in your cheeks were deep like whirlpools /
The river used to take its curves from your waist /
And the crops ripened with the sound of your laugh

(Everything beautiful revolved around you)]]

Chhod aaye hum wo galiyaan... - 2
[[We've left behind those streets...]]

Jahaan teri eDi se dhoop uda karti thi
Suna hai us chaukhat pe, ab shaam raha karti hai
Laton se uljhi lipti ek raat hua karti thi
Kabhie-kabhie takiye pe, wo bhi mila karti hai

[[Gulzar shifts into a more melancholic gear with this antara - though the hero has left behind his love for a greater(?) cause, he is missing those times and places.

When you used to walk, sunlight took off from your heels (you set free the sunlight) /
(I've heard that) that doorstep of yours is now under a gloomy shadow of dusk /
The night that I found entangled and coiled around in your hair /
Once in a while it comes to pay me a visit when I'm lying awake at my pillow]]

Chhod aaye hum wo galiyaan... - 2
[[We've left behind those streets...]]

Dil dard ka tukda hai, patthar ki dali si hai
Ek andha kuaan hai ya, ek band gali si hai
Ek chhota sa lamha hai, jo khatm nahin hota
Main laakh jalata hoon, yeh bhasm nahin hota

[[The song shifts mode yet again, giving a glimpse of the heart of a militant. No one becomes a terrorist for the heck of it. It often results from deep-rooted pain and suffering.

My heart is like a lump of pain, it's like a piece of stone /
(It's) Like a bottomless pit, or a blind alley / 
There is this fragment of time, which just wouldn't end /
No matter how much I try to burn it, it just wouldn't reduce to ashes]]

Music Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyricist: Gulzar
Singers: Hariharan, KK, Suresh Wadkar, Vinod Sahgal

My two cents:
  1. The last para talks about how there are some memories which, no matter how much one tries to forget, are impossible to get out of your mind. They change your life for ever.
  2. This song somehow reminds me of Bhagat Singh - also a young man who left behind his family and loved ones to join a cause he believed in.

(On Samyak's request)


  1. beautiful post :-) i love this song.
    it reminds me of my early college days and in a completely different context. whenever we used to go for trekking or overnight trips, we used to sing this song alongwith chhappa chhappa :-)

  2. @Anonymous:
    thanks :)

    I think no bonfire would be complete without dancing to the beat of chappa-chappa now :)

    As I often say, songs have this amazing quality of bringing back memories.

  3. This post is like Diwali Treat :)

    May be in last para... he also wanted to say that the path they have chosen is endless... no matter how far they traverse implying that revenge will not be sufficient.

    There is a difference in Bhagat Singh and anyone who leaves his/her home for greater(?) and the difference is a vision. Bhagat Singh wanted to have a trial and thus put his view points to English Government.

  4. @Bhav:
    that could also be true ... :)
    of course there's difference... no two people are same!

  5. My fav song... and a great companion on all my journeys, trekking, travelling.
    I also love the way the song transitions itself which you beautifully have described above.


  6. yeah Sam... it's a lovely travel song :) thanks. any more suggestions? :P

  7. Not demeaning your urdu knowledge,more than your knowledge of urdu, it is the english apt words which you use surprise me.I am sure you must have pondered over long to get them right.Keep it going.You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you, I'd take that as a compliment, since I hardly know any Urdu :)

      I do strive to find the right words... else the translations would be all the more of a farce!

  8. Thank you so much for this translation! I have been searching hard for it!

  9. Thank you so much for the English interpretation. My Hindi is awful so imagine how awful my Urdu must be. I understood most of it but Hanse to do gaalon mein bhanwar pada karte I thought it meant she was blushing. Bhanwar for dimple is so beautiful and apt.
    You have got a lovely blog here :) Looking forward to reading more.

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  11. What a song...thank you for lyrics and lovely translation

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I want to know the shooting place of this song (chhod aaye hum wo galiyan).


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